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Rampant graft roils Indian politics
3 officials quit amid scandals
c Suresh Kalmadi, chairman of the Commonwealth Games organizing committee, resigned last week amid a federal investigation of corruption charges stemming from the poor planning, construction and sanitation that plagued the games this summer. Two other officials from the organizing committee - Sanjay Mohindroo and T.S. Dibari - were arrested this week and charged with corruption.
A fourth scandal is looming: This week, the chairman of the Tata Group, one of India’s top industrial conglomerates, disclosed how a government official asked for a bribe when he sought to start an airline business.
Chairman Ratan Tata said he refused to pay the $3.3 million bribe.
“We went through three governments, to three prime ministers. But each time a particular individual thwarted our efforts to form the airline,” he said.
Mr. Tata said another industrialist suggested paying the bribe and going ahead with plans to set up a domestic carrier in collaboration with Singapore Airlines, but he refused because he did not want to buy his way into the market. He did not identify the official.
T.R. Raghunandan, founder of the anti-corruption website Ipaidabribe.com, said the Indian government’s corruption is hobbling the nation’s economic growth by providing poor services to the common people and fostering social inequities.
The GFI report supports his conclusion. It says accelerated rates of growth since the start of India’s economic boom in 1991 led to a deterioration of income distribution, which prompted more illicit flows from India.
“This report puts into stark terms the financial cost of tax evasion, corruption and other illicit financial practices in India,” said GFI Director Raymond Baker. “It also shows that these illicit outflows contribute to stagnating levels of poverty and an ever-widening gap between India’s rich and poor.”
Firing government ministers is only a symbolic gesture because they can be re-elected to office, Mr. Raghunandan said. “You need to convict them so that they cannot [be elected] again.”
“We have to give more teeth to our federal investigating agency and augment the evidence-gathering and criminal-prosecution procedures,” he said.
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